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August 8, 2022

Are the world's best restaurants really as good as the experts say they are? Data reveals an unexpected surprise

Martin Müller

Content Lead

This article is also available in other languages

The world’s best restaurants for 2022 are officially known as the company aptly called The World’s 50 Best announced its annual restaurant competition (running since 2002) winners. But are the selected places really that good? We have double-checked it and found out something unexpected.

SharpGrid is currently expanding to Spain and Italy and it just so happens that 12 of the 50 victorious restaurants are in these two countries, split 6-6. We have therefore decided to use our Outlet Census data to subject them to 2 tests: engagement and quality.

We will start with Spain and publish the results for Italy later this month.

How to measure the best restaurants?

SharpGrid Consumer Engagement indicator is a measure of customers' interaction with the restaurant. Higher engagement signals that a lot of visitors felt the need to leave a comment on social media, Google or other platforms allowing user-generated content.

High engagement can mean 2 things: Either the restaurant is very bad or very good.

How to determine whether it’s good or bad? Simply by looking at our second indicator called Consumer Rating which tells us - rather unsurprisingly given its name - what is the average rating visitors gave the restaurant. We are aggregating ratings from dozens of different sources, so to unify the scale we use a range 1-5 where 1 is the worst and 5 the best.

Are the best restaurants engaged and good enough?

The best restaurants in Spain are: 

  • Disfrutar in Barcelona (3rd place)
  • Diverxo in Madrid (4th place) 
  • Asador Etxebarri in Atxondo (6th place)
  • Elkano in Getaria (16th place)
  • Mugaritz in San Sebastian (21st place)
  • Quique Dacosta in Dénia (42nd place)

The average Consumer Engagement in Spain is 319 (meaning there are on average 319 ratings for 1 place) and the average Consumer Rating is 4.2. Now, how do these 6 places compare to the national average? See the map below for results.

Legend: The bigger the circle, the higher the Consumer Engagement. The richer the blue, the better the Consumer Rating. Hover over the dots to reveal detailed data. 

Interpreting the data: Even the best restaurants have flaws

As you can clearly see, the 6 best restaurants have on average almost 10 times higher Consumer Engagement than the rest of Spain. This tells on-trade producers and vendors (see our article on on-trade definitions and wording to avoid confusion) that these places are the best for brand building and showcasing new products as the people here are highly engaged. But are they good enough in terms of quality?

The average Consumer Rating for the 6 best restaurants in Spain is 4.5. That is quite good, but maybe not as good as one would expect given the fact that almost 1/3 of all on-trade outlets and points of sale in Spain are above this threshold. It would be even better without the one place that has significantly lower rating than the others - Mugaritz with 4.09. 

The one glaring exception

Interestingly enough, a quick glance at Google reviews for Mugaritz (average rating of 4) reveals that people often complain about the quality of food, mentioning they expected something better. Tripadvisor reviews are even more savage, calling the food outright disgusting and a waste of money. The average rating Mugaritz currently (as of July 2022) has on Tripadvisor is a meager 3.5. Compare that to Disfrutar or Diverxo with 4.5 and the difference becomes obvious.

This might be a case of exaggerated expectations as Mugaritz is quite famous and often referred to a s the best or one of the best restaurants in the world by various sources. Or maybe after years of success, the pressure for perfection grows and quality is starting to go down slowly. Or maybe the reviewers’ taste buds are simply not delicate enough to properly appreciate the chef’s mastery? We might not know for sure, but what we do know is that the Customer Rating of Mugaritz is lower than Spain’s national average which might be a red flag for on-trade vendors looking for outlets to work with.

Data-driven analysis doesn’t lie

The lesson is clear: Don’t trust just one source of information. Always cross-check the data to see a clear, undistorted picture of the on-trade market. Thanks to Outlet Census data, you now know one of the six “best restaurants” is actually not that good as the awards might make you think. And that might save you a lot of money and resources.

This is exactly what we do at SharpGrid. Our goal is to navigate our clients towards the objectively best restaurants with qualitative filters based on dozens of digital sources that are cross-checked, cleaned and interpreted in a way that is useful for sales or channel managers, salespeople in the field, insights or trade marketing departments and so on. 

If you’re interested in what our products do and how we achieve the best datasets for sales departments, check out our product page for Outlet Census and Market Meter.

SharpGrid is a data & tech company reinventing market research in the on-trade channel. The on-trade channel consists of POSs (point of sale) where food & beverage is bought and consumed, and is often also called HoReCa, on-premise, food service, out-of-home, gastro or immediate consumption (IC) channel, hospitality, on-licence.

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